Out for a Grocery Stroll
After a little afternoon nap, I booted myself out the door for a stroll. It was just after 3:00, the quiet time of the day in the city. A mostly gray sky with a little chill in the air. Nice to head out and wander.
Just two blocks from home, I saw my Fashion Design instructor, Lee, from a year and a half ago. I hadn’t seen her since this summer session and it was nice to chat a bit. As it turns out, she recently moved to just around the corner for me, so we may meet for coffee sometime.
I needed a few groceries, but not much. The Saturday market was likely over, but I headed in that direction anyway, and am glad that I did. There was a stillness, an ease that is certainly not there in the height of the market selling. Many vendors had already left, but the others were slowly putting away their vegetables and fruits, their cheeses, meats and household sundries. They were still just as happy to make one last sale and end the day with a few extra euro in their pockets.
The fennel looked good, and I wanted to take one home with me. No. The minimum was three. “Oh, really? OK fine. Give me three. I’ll take some cherry tomatoes, too.” And of course, he THREW them into a bag. At another stall, the green beans looked fabulous and I wanted one of the two baskets full. He heaped a “fruta e verdura” paper bag with the beans from BOTH baskets, more than I could eat in a month. Fine. I love beans. I’ll eat them every day this week. (I guess they just didn’t want to pack up anything they could possibly send down the road.)
The man that had sold me bresaola the last time I went to this market was there again. I asked for “cento grammi“, 100 grams which he sliced right then, plus some brie. Then I saw a curious, smoked something-or-other, and asked for two. It’s cheese wrapped around prosciutto and olives, with some sort of creamy sauce inside, then smoked. (Front edge of the plate in the photo.)
The flower stall still had a few options, so I bought four colors of fragrant freesia to bring home.
I left the street market and went to the main street. As I approached the grocery store, there was a vendor out front roasting chestnuts. Yes, please! I added a big handful of those to my shopping bag. A few feet away, I spotted Justin, the woman from Kenya that works behind the meat counter at the grocery. She and I have chatted a number of times, and is the biggest reason for me to shop there. Her pleasant manner and conversation make me smile. Inside, I bought a package of cheese crackers that I had discovered when I first arrived four months ago, and some chicken thighs (for which I had big plans).
Next came the Bakery. There was a pizza square with mushrooms, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, sauce and cheese that clamored to come home with me. Plus, I bought a little bun with chunks of green olives. Basta! Plenty! That was enough for one shopping spree.
Along the way home, an elderly woman in a purple jacket stopped me to ask where I had bought the freesia. Unfortunately for her, the market was long over, but we chatted about freesia and tulips and springtime and I was pleased that we could have such a conversation.
And those chicken thighs? I cooked them just like Mom used to when we were kids (60s Americana): dredged in flour with salt and pepper. Browned in (olive) oil, then drowned in water and left to simmer for almost two hours ’til they were falling-off-the-bones tender. The chicken produced the classic gravy I was looking for and was ladled over (brown) rice, served with a few of those many green beans.
It was a simple afternoon, really. Just buying a few groceries. But the fact that I see familiar faces while out-and-about-town, and can just chat with people means the world to me. These are first steps toward being IN this community even if only in a small way.